A team from HM Land Registry has secured a national public sector award for its work in combating property fraud through an integrated marketing campaign.
The executive agency’s Counter Fraud Group created a marketing drive focused around motivating trusted third parties in the property industry – such as solicitors and conveyances – to raise awareness of its free “Property Alert” service among those most likely to benefit from it.
The service allows people to request e-mail updates on activity involving property in England and Wales that is registered with the Land Registry, when it is feared its owner may be vulnerable to fraud.
It can be used by people other than the landowner, allowing relatives or others so subscribe to what is effectively an early-warning system for potentially illegal activity related to a vulnerable person’s property.
Judges of the Government Counter Fraud Awards said the Land Registry team had “left no stone unturned” in its drive to boost awareness of the programme and had used an array of channels – including social media, a dedicated website, and newspaper advertising – to exceed its sign-up target by 70%.
“They were astute in selecting the most effective, audience-appropriate channels and received justifiably very positive feedback for their efforts,” they said.
HM Land Registry said the campaign had seen the creation of 52,000 additional Property Alert accounts, covering 100,000 properties.
Elsewhere in the awards, HM Revenue and Customs won the "excellence in fraud prevention" category for its Alcohol Intelligence Coordination Centre; the Government Internal Audit Agency's Counter Fraud Investigation Team was named "government counter-fraud team of the year"; and HMRC's Nick Branigan was named "government counter-fraud professional of the year".
Branigan specialises in economic crime related to the illegal exploitation of fish stocks. The project behind his award began with the evasion of tax and duties in the Scottish fishing industry, but broadened into a North Atlantic drive that has also encompassed undocumented labour and has so-far boosted tax receipts by at least £30m.
The Government Counter Fraud Awards launched last year and are a joint initiative between the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, the Cabinet Office, and the National Crime Agency.